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Saturday, March 9, 2024

New Orleans To Los Angeles - Pete Fountain



New Orleans To Los Angeles
Pet Fountain And His Three Coins
Cover Design by Johnny Donnels
Picture by John Kuhlman
Southland Records SLP S-LP 215

From the back cover: Side 1 – Each Fall heralds an event of the West Coast that's become known as the "World Series" of Jazz, and rightfully so, for upon opening the tinted program one is immediately impressed by the "Big League" calibre of the artists appearing at these Dixieland Jubilee's presented y Jazz Impresario's Frank Bull and Gene Norman.

The evening of September 29th, 1956 will be long-remembered as one of the greatest of these annual events, and also as the second time that the New Orleans Jazz shepherd Joe Mares herded eminent Crescent City musicians westward, this time bringing to the huge stage of the Shrine Auditorium the incomparable  Pete Fountain, and the astounding Al Hirt; two show-stoppers, indeed!

The Jazz World has for some time recognized that in Pete Fountain is entwined an old tradition, his clarinet-work having been rated by many critics as ofttimes superior to the immortal Irving "Faz" Fazola. Perhaps superior recording equipment influences such statements, but rather than compare, I would prefer to analyze, for like the music itself Pete is a "home-grown" product, raised in the environment and tradition that so bountiful follows from his mind (by wa of his reed) for all of us to enjoy.

This same evening offered West Coast fans the opportunity to hear in person Al Hirt the trumpet-man who has consistently thrilled them by way of his Coast-to-Coast CBS broadcasts and Southland records. Like his clarinet-partner of the evening, Al's playing captured the audience in a manner most deserved such a stirring artist.

Surrounding these two New Orleans contemporaries for the evening was an all-star group befitting the spectacular Saturday nite performance, Joe Mares was possessed with the idea of documenting these men, so much so that they waited only until Monday to gather in the recording studio.

This all-star group included two other native New Orleans musicians, Eddie Miller on Tenor Sax, and Ray Bauduc at the drums, both perhaps best known for their work with old Bob Crosby, "Bobcats". Completing the "front line" the sensational trombone of Abe Lincoln. On bass is heard Morty Corb, one of the finest rhythm men on the West Coast today, as we might also say of Stan Wrightsman whose keyboard artistry completes the lineup.

The age-old, ever-new Farewell Blues opens this session and is highlighted by the spirited trombone of Abe Lincoln, and the "infectious rhythms" of Ray Bauduc. Then too, there's solos by everyone, outstanding being the combination of Al Hirt's trumpet and Eddie Miller's tenor sax. Ever since its introduction by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, At The Jazz Band Ball has been a "must" whenever jazzmen get together for a session, this one being no exception. Here again everyone is heard in solos, Pete Fountain and Al Hirt contributing immensely to the HOT feeling of the moment.  Brief, but memorable, is the tremendous bass solo by Morty Corb. When ex-Bobcats get together you can count on hearing one of the selections they enjoyed playing so much. March Of The Bobcats, as played here, seems to have that added something that transpires this performance about all others. So much could be said of this one track alone, of how Lincoln shines like never before, now Wrightsman's keyboard becomes a showcase of finger work, of Fountain's solo, of Bauduc's parade beat, and Miller's sax being heard as never before. We could go on and on, and I know you'll be playing this one over and over. Pete Fountain thrills us next with his most interpretive playing on the Jazz Me Blues, which also spotlights tremendous solos by Miller, Lincoln, Wrightsman. A rollicking and soft-spoken ensemble soon reaches its climax which ends our listening pleasure for this session. 

Words can never describe the lasting impression made on the West Coast by the creative and imaginative clarinet-work of Pete Fountain, or that of the torrid trumpet-work of Al Hirt. Although the tumultuous roar of the crowds of several nights previous had died down and the quietude of the recording studio was no compare, preserved the present here IS "New Orleans to Los Angeles" Jazz. – Art Anderson, October 7, 1956

Mr. Anderson is a well-known San Diego record collector and jazz authority. His "Jazz Informal" radio programs over KFMB have attracted wide attention.

Side 2 – Seldom indeed, does any musician attain such virtuosity to be rated by his audience (and other musicians) as one of the best in the business. Even more rare is it when the same man is able to qualify for top honors on two instruments. But do not let our enthusiasm influence you. Let the music within these grooves talk for itself, and Pete will prove just this point on both clarinet and sax...

Growing from the ranks of "The Junior Dixieland Band", Pete adolescently displayed his wares before a tolerant but enthusiastic N.O. Jazz Club some seven years ago. The stature of this musician has forced itself among the ranks of the all-time greats of jazz in less than a decade.

Combining the mellowness of tone and extreme good taste of Fazzola, the technical skill of Benny Goodman and the gut-bucket style of Edmond Hall, Mr. Fountain has developed a style all his own on the clarinet. Switching over to tenor saxophone, he then proceeds to demonstrate That Eddie Miller and Bud Freeman had better look to their laurels.

Joe Mares has made a particularly fine selection in professional and solemn-looking Roy Zimmerman as pianist. Roy has been perfect foil for many of the greatest lead men in the business, and lays down a solid platform upon which Pete my strut. His chording, plus the ability to embroider beautifully when his own turn comes renders Mr. Zimmerman invaluable in such a "tight: little outfit.

Phil Darios, using his string bass to perfection, enhances the sound of the band by laying down a big, round tone alongside Zim's left hand. Also an excellent tuba man, Phil sometimes employs the upward slanting chords of this wind instrument on the string bass to increase the interest and attention of the listener.

The choice of drummer Johnny Edwards (no relation to Daddy Edwards of ODJB fame) has been most fortunate. His good taste and delicate handling of the rhythm in such a small combo is beautifully adequate, yet completely unobtrusive. You "feel" the rhythm rather than concentrate on the drum beats and it all winds up as a very fine blend. Not once does he let the music lag, nor does he hurry it along.

Altogether, it is a happy combination, which is even more enhanced by one of the best recording jobs that Joe Mares has done. Be sure to obtain at least two or more copies, so that you may play one all you want - but make certain a stash away one of the others, for you can mark it down as "Collector's Item" of tomorrow. Southland is proud to have been the first to record Pete Fountain fronting his own combination from Southland and New Orleans to the Jazz World. – Dr. Edmond Souchon - Dr. Souchon is an eminent New Orleans Physician Jazz Scholar and Musician 

New Orleans To Los Angeles
Al Hirt - Trumpet
Pete Fountain - Clarinet
Eddie Miller - Tenor Sax
Abe Lincoln - Trombone
Stan Wrightsman - Piano
Morty Corb - String Bass
Ray Bauduc - Drums

Farewell Blues
Jazz Band Ball
March Of The Bob Cats
Jazz Me Blues

Pete Fountain And Hi Three Coins
Pete Fountain - Clarinet - Tenor Sax
Roy Zimmerman - Piano
Johnny Edwards - Drums
Phil Darois - String Bass

Struttin' With Bar-B-Q
Song Of The Wanders

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